What is a Meal Replacement?
A meal replacement (MR) is a low-calorie beverage (shake) or bar which contains protein, carbohydrate and fat, fortified with vitamins and minerals. MR products are usually formulated to help attain a particular goal such as weight loss or to help with health conditions such as diabetes. Some are also designed to help boost strength and vitality.
What are the benefits of MR plans?
MR plans are generally specifically formulated with all the nutrients and portions required to help you attain your specific goal. The idea is that if you eat that, you will have everything you need – nothing more nothing less.
It is also convenient and takes away the need for you to have to plan what you want to eat ahead. It also reduces the need for you to calorie count as each meal is already designed for you.
In other words, the benefits are as follows:
● Minimum effort required for busy lifestyles
● Flexible and convenient
● Calorie counting is more controlled.
● Varied choices of meal replacement products.
● Added nutritional formulas to meet some dietary needs.
● Years of experience and success for companies such as Slimfast.
● Snacking between meals is encouraged.
● Social media support groups to keep you motivated.
● Diets have been brought up-to-date with science-backed keto diets.
Side Effects of MR Plans
As with anything, there are downsides.
There are several issues and limitations that have been raised with regard to meal replacement diet plans such as its potentially high sugar content and the risk of binge eating. It could also lead to poor knowledge of food and nutrition.
In short, the cons are as follows:
● It cannot provide all the antioxidants your body requires.
● Questionable sustainability when using this diet long term. The most successful diets are balanced with a range of natural wholefoods, rather than replacement meals.
● Not many replacement meal plans meet all dietary needs, such as coeliac disease ( a condition where your immune system attacks your own tissues when you eat gluten. This damages your gut (small intestine) so you are unable to take in nutrients. Coeliac disease can cause a range of symptoms, including diarrhoea, abdominal pain and bloating).
● Once you end the meal replacement diet there’s a chance you could gain weight again.
Less nutritious than wholesome healthy meals: lacks natural vitamins, minerals and proteins needed to support body and mind.